Alfie: 'We're in a slump'

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

You can downgrade the Senators' condition from frustratingly mediocre to full-blown slump.

The Senators, killed once again by penalties, lost a 2-1 decision to the Atlanta Thrashers at Scotiabank Place and Marian Hossa found a way to make his return to Ottawa a winning one.

The Thrashers forward, traded to Atlanta for Dany Heatley last August, was hauled down by Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, setting the stage for the winner by Thrashers defenceman Andy Sutton at 9:29 of the third period.

The Senators now have just two wins in their last seven games (2-4-1).

"We're in a slump, no question," said Alfredsson. "That winning goal on the power play was pretty tough. Special teams were the difference (last night). Five-on-five, I thought we were the better team. It's a tough loss, but we have to just keep plugging away."

Sutton's shot looked like it changed direction on Senators goaltender Dominik Hasek and caught the top half of the net.

For the second night in a row, penalties got the opposition going. The Rangers used a 5-on-3 advantage Wednesday night to open the scoring on their way to a 5-1 win over the Senators.

Senators forward Chris Neil had three minors on the night (one was coincidental) with the Thrashers tying the game while he was in the box in the second on a goal by Ilya Kovalchuk, his league-leading 37th of the season.

The Senators had led 1-0 on Andrej Meszaros' fifth goal of the season at 14:50 of the second period.

Neil was sent off for a borderline slashing call which led to Kovalchuk's goal.

"I just kind of skated into him. It's a frustrating call, especially when you see some of the other stuff that wasn't called. A hit from behind was only a two-minute penalty," said Neil, referring to the hit by Atlanta's Ronald Petrovicky in the third on Ottawa's Vaclav Varada that left the Senators forward writhing on the ice.

In a game featuring five of the NHL's top-10 scorers, both clubs were wary of the other's snipers and both goaltenders were sharp.

"They had a power play tonight and we didn't and that was the difference," said Senators coach Bryan Murray, who said he was satisfied with his team's effort.

Murray, looking for a way to shake up his moribund offence - particularly from the first line - shook things up last night. Alfredsson was on a line with Antoine Vermette and Mike Fisher while Brandon Bochenski was reunited with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.

Bochenski, called up from Binghamton of the American Hockey League, went into the lineup in place of defenceman Chris Phillips, out with a sprained thumb (Christoph Schubert shifted from forward to defence).

The Senators generated some chances, but Thrashers goaltender Kari Lehtonen was equal to the task until the 14:50 mark of the second period.

He was beaten on a blast from the right point off the stick of Meszaros, who benefited from a turnover by the Thrashers.

The Senators still have trouble penetrating to the net for second chances.

"Our biggest thing is a consistent work ethic," said Neil. "It's driving to the net and stopping. Most of the guys did that tonight. If we want to be a Stanley Cup contender, you've got to do that kind of stuff."

There wasn't much of a reaction from the crowd of 19,604 to the return of Hossa to Ottawa, no boos and not much in the way of cheers. Heatley, traded for Hossa, was booed in his return to Atlanta last month.


Videos

Photos